Former student’s football debut with Sir Bobby Charlton found in archives

Former student’s football debut with Sir Bobby Charlton found in archives

A fascinating personal account of a talented former student’s England selection and International debut, alongside footballing legend Sir Bobby Charlton, has come to light in Homewood’s archives.

Following news of the death of Arsenal and England schoolboy footballer Ronald (Ron) Saxby, aged 82, volunteers cataloguing Homewood’s archives checked the school’s magazines from 1953 – the year in which former student received his call-up to the England schoolboy squad. To their amazement they found a full and detailed account of his first appearances for his country with footballing legend Sir Bobby Charlton and fellow ‘Busby Babe’ Wilf McGuiness.

In the article, published in the July 1953 edition of the official Homewood School Magazine, Ron vividly describes the day he stepped out onto the pitch in an England Schoolboys trial on 14 February 1953. He recalls looking into the stands to see faces that were to become very familiar to him: “the soccer scouts of some of the most famous English clubs.”

The 15-year old Homewoodian goes on to detail his experiences at the subsequent selection matches that led to his national call-up. When he realises he has been successful, he states: “I could not help thinking of the honour I had brought to the Ashford and Weald Association, my school and my parents.” Ron remains the first and only schoolboy from the area to play for England.

Sir Bobby appears in Ron’s description of his first Schoolboys’ International against Wales on 27 March. After a shaky start when Wales went ahead, Ron writes: “It was now vital for us to fight back and soon our inside left, Charlton, gathered the ball and netted from about twenty yards out.”  This was the first of two goals scored by the future legend and Ron concludes his report with the comment that “Charlton was the best of the English forwards.”

Tributes have been paid to Ron, who was born in Tenterden in 1937 and was one of Homewood School’s first pupils. According to one of his near-contemporaries, Keith Kitney, who went on to become Head of PE at Homewood, Ron was a ‘good lad’ who was liked and respected by both his peers and his teachers.

CEO of the Tenterden Schools’ Trust, of which Homewood is now part, Sally Lees said: “His obvious talent at football quickly earned him a place in not only the school team but also with local club Tenterden and St Michael’s United. This was swiftly followed by call-ups to both the Kent and England schoolboy squads.”

Following his league debut for Arsenal at just 15, Ron became a regular in the youth team, taking part in the club’s first ever international youth tournament in Amsterdam during the 1954-55 season in which the Gunners were runners-up. He went on to play regularly for the Youth ‘A’ Team and reserves scoring a total of 55 goals for the club. After spells at Hastings United and Tunbridge Wells Rangers, he became manager of Bexhill United and then Rye United, before taking on the Royal Mail’s South East England team.

Ron passed away in November 2019, aged 82.

Do you remember Ron?  Did you play alongside him in the school, local or Kent teams? Please contact alumni@homewood.kent.sch.uk, if you have memories and/or photos that can be added to the Homewood School archive and for potential inclusion in new exhibitions at both the Town Hall and the school in May and June respectively.